Tag Archives: deadlift

Is Strongman For You?

When I first opened the Primal Strength Gym, I was the only one who trained for Strongman. At my last Strongman Sunday event, around 8 months after I officially opened Primal, we had more than 15 people come and train.

After this upcoming Saturday, I will have had 9 people from Primal compete within the past two weeks, with 5 of those competing for the first time.

It has been a cool experience watching the sport grow amongst my gym members, and the general awareness my gym has created across the city of Charlottesville.

But there are two things that seem to peak the curiosity of my followers.

Continue reading Is Strongman For You?

Why You Should Be Squatting With A Safety Squat Bar

Specialty bars have grown in popularity since Westside Barbell introduced them into their training. While the straight bar may always be king, especially for powerlifters who must use a straight bar in competition, variety never hurt anyone and in a lot of other cases, may prove superior to standard training. Enter the safety squat bar.

Continue reading Why You Should Be Squatting With A Safety Squat Bar

Built to Perform: Strength Standards For Lifters

As a strength coach, I take the “strength” in strength and conditioning seriously, regardless of what your involvement in the iron game is.

Before you say “No Tank, I don’t need to actually be strong to reach my goals”, try to name a me circumstance where “stronger is not better”.

Even if you’re not a traditional strength athlete but rather a bodybuilder or bikini competitor, the stronger you are, the better your body will perform in the weight room and eventually look on stage. There is no way around that argument…

Regardless of whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, football player, or a gym rat, you should be backing up your looks with your performance. In other words, looking jacked but lifting like a pussy ain’t cool. It’s false advertising and nobody likes a fraud.

Bench_press_yellow

But what numbers should you be aiming for?

Strong can be a very subjective word depending on perspective and your audience. To Uncle Rico you might look like the next coming of Dan John but to Dan John you may look like, well, Uncle Rico…

So let me break it down for you. Here is a list of my strength standards for both men and women.  These strength standards begin with above average performance. (Being average sucks so no need to know what it means to be “okay”).

These strength standards would be accepted in most serious strength circles as a fair and accurate measuring stick.

Men’s
  • Deadlift
    • Good: 2 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2.75 x bodyweight
  • Squat
    • Good: 2 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2.5 x bodyweight
  • Bench Press
    • Good: 1.5 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2 x bodyweight
  • Overhead Press
    • Good: 165lbs
    • Elite: 225lbs
Women’s
  • Deadlift
    • Good: 1.5 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2 x bodyweight
  • Squat
    • Good: 1.25 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2 x bodyweight
  • Bench Press
    • Good: .75 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 1 x bodyweight
  • Overhead Press
    • Good: 65lbs
    • Elite: 95lbs

molly

So what does “good” and “elite” really mean?

Good

Being in the “good” category means that most average people would consider your lifts strong and that it would take a decent amount of training to get to those numbers. I would call someone in the “good” category an intermediate lifter.

Kudos to being here but if you have been lifting for a number of years, you should be building off of this level and aiming to progress above these benchmarks.

Elite

“Elite” means you are stronger than 95% of the population. If you consider yourself as someone who takes strength and conditioning seriously, this is the category you should be aiming to get into. Not everyone will get there but it never hurts to have a goal.

(One caveat: While being in this category makes you stronger than 95% of the average Joes out there, this does not mean you are elite by any standard when comparing yourself to other athletes and/or powerlifters/strongmen.)

Wrapping Up

It’s not “strength training” unless you’re getting strong.

Knowing how you measure up is key to monitoring your progress and setting goals for yourself, so use these strength standards as a measuring stick for your training.

Not everyone will sniff the “elite” category, but everyone should be able to enter and exceed the “good” category. If getting stronger is your passion, build off of being “good” and work towards being “elite”.

Strength is a journey…enjoy the ride…

All the best,

— Tank

Contrast Training To Boost Strength Gains

Contrast training is one of the most effective ways to increase your strength levels, power output, muscle mass, metabolic function for fat loss, and overall performance levels.

contrast training
Sprinting with a parachute or sled, followed by sprinting with no resistance, is a great example of contrast training.

I first read about contrast training in Yuri Verkhoshansky’s Supertraining, but I have seen it employed elsewhere for a variety of different training goals and applications.

The concept is simple. Taking an example from Verkhoshansky and something we’ve probably all done in our lives, imagine picking up a can that was half full of liquid when our mind thought it was full. Typically what happens is we move the can with much more force than we intended and make a big mess. Our nervous system was primed based on past performance and therefore muscle capability was enhanced.

Now apply this to strength training. There are two different ways I use contrasts in my training. I use contrasting movements (an explosive movement after a heavy lift) and I use contrasting tempos (lighter loads with explosive, faster tempo than normal).

Using either of these, think of the above water example. Working in explosive movements/tempos after a strength movement recruits more motor units and produces more force. The benefits are straightforward. The more muscle you recruit, the more explosive, strong, and powerful you are. Contrast training also increases the amount of work you are doing giving you a greater metabolic boost than normal training. And obviously, the more muscle you recruit, the more hypertrophy you can induce (although you may want to up your reps slightly for a hypertrophy focus).

Putting Contrast Training Into Practice

Ok, so you get the concept, but how do you actually implement it? As mentioned before, I use contrast training in two different ways.

#1 Contrasting Movements

Start with a 5-8 rep set of a heavy lift and pair it with an unloaded explosive movement with the same rep scheme. For example, a heavy set of squats followed by a set of box jumps; or a heavy set of bench followed by a set of plyo push-ups; or a heavy sled drag followed by an all-out sprint.

contrast training
Heavy squats followed by max effort box jumps will increase your strength and explosiveness.

Your unloaded contrasting movement should be done with maximal effort. Rest times in between your heavy lift and contrast movement can vary and is goal dependent. If you goal is maximal strength, rest for 3 minutes. If your goal is for increased athletic performance or fat loss, rest for 30 seconds or no rest at all. For hypertrophy, split the difference somewhere in between.

Four to five sets (of each movement) will do the trick. Use the lower end of the rep scheme for maximal strength, and the upper end for hypertrophy and fat loss. You don’t need to use contrast movements every training session, as I don’t recommend training maximally for extended periods of time, but continuously keep it as part of your training toolkit.

#2 Contrasting Tempos

For this, you are doing the same movement (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) for three sets, but varying the tempo in which your perform it. You start with a set of slow tempo emphasizing the eccentric movement of the lift, then perform a set faster than normal, and then perform a normal one. Here is an example:

Set 1: Using a moderate weight (70-80% of your 1 rep max), you use a very slow tempo (about 5 seconds on the negative portion of the lift) and then pause near the bottom of the lift for 2-3 seconds. For squats the pause would be at roughly parallel, for bench, the bar just above your chest, etc. The idea here is that you keep full body tension. After the pause, you perform the concentric part of the lift normally. This set is done for 2-3 reps, and then you rest for 2 minutes.

Set 2: This set is done with lighter weight (60-70%) but done explosively. You control the eccentric portion, but explode from the bottom applying as much force as you can. This set is for 3-5 reps, and then rest for 60 seconds.

Set 3: This set is done with the heaviest weight (80-85%) using normal tempo (2 seconds down, no pause, 2 seconds up). This set is for 4-6 reps and then you rest 3 minutes.

You perform this series of sets (all 3) 2-3 times, giving you a total of 6-9 sets.

After your last set, try to end your training with the tempo that is most conducive to your goals. For example, if you are a strength athlete always end your training with the heaviest set. If you’re a an athlete and are trying to develop explosiveness, then add in an extra set of set #2 at the end of the series. For hypertrophy, end the series with an extra set of #1.

contrast training
This is perfect position for pausing at the bottom of the squat.

Training Smarter, Not Harder

Use contrast training to help boost your performance, but know how to tailor them to your goals based on the recommendations I gave above. These are easy to integrate into any strength training program, so use them to your advantage and break through your plateaus. But as with anything else, do not overuse them to the point that they lose their effectiveness.

— Tank

Best Exercises You Aren’t Doing

best exercisesSome of these may seem obvious to you, but inevitably we all can neglect some of the best exercises for building size and strength.

Take a look back at your training logs and see how much time you are devoting to these. I bet you’d be surprised at what you find. I meticulously plan my workouts every single day, but when I look back on my records, I can always find at least one these best exercises that I’m neglecting.

Missing something from this list in your training? It’s time to make it a priority. Maybe that means scrapping something else from your current training plan to fit these in, and in that case, you are welcome for the intervention.

  1. Deadlifts – What? Everybody does deadlifts right? Wrong. The average gym rat doesn’t spend enough time making these a focus, or they commit one of the greatest gym sins of all by not deadlifting period. They are one of the greatest tests of overall body strength, and if you aren’t doing these with regularity, I can guarantee you that you aren’t meeting your full strength potential.
  2. Pushups – Amazing that such a classic can get overlooked, but it happens on a regular basis. Hall of Fame NFL running back Hershel Walker claims he built his body totally from push-ups. Not sure I buy it, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. An easy way to make sure to get these in is by incorporating them into a warmup or a finisher.
  3. Pullups – Same as above. After you can do 15 perfect pull-ups, vary your grip and start working on some of the variations.
  4. Glute Ham Raises – Weak hamstrings are the single most pervasive muscle imbalance across the planet. Weak hammies will hinder you in the deadlift, squat, sprinting, and a myriad of other athletic performance activities. If you don’t have access to a glute ham machine, there a variety of different techniques to perform them, or you can substitute in Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, hip thrusts, hamstring curls and boxsquats. If this list was a top 15, all of these would be on there.
    best exercises
    If you don’t have a glute ham machine, there are a variety of alternatives.
  5. Farmer Carries – These are a must and one of my favorite exercises. They make a great training finisher and will work wonders for your upper back, grip strength, forearms, and mental toughness.
  6. Squats – Kinda goes hand in hand with #1. If you don’t want to look like a lightbulb, you gotta squat. Squat often, squat for a lot of reps, and squat heavy. As I mentioned with pull-ups, work in some of the squat variations like front squats, box squats, and single-leg squats. All of these will help improve your flexibility, technique, and strength.
  7. Hang Cleans – Performing these will do wonders for building mass on your entire upper body and for developing your explosiveness. Hang cleans produce 4 times as much power as squats and deadlifts, and 9 times as much as the bench press, according to some research. They are also fairly easy to learn, making them a great addition to the classics like bench, squats, overhead pressing, and deadlifting.
    best exercises
    There are several starting positions for doing cleans. I like hang cleans because they require more upper body strength and force and the technique is much easier to learn than full cleans.
  8. Kettlebell Swings – These are the easiest of the kettlebell lifts to learn and one of the most effective. Benefits for your legs, shoulders, hips, mobility, explosiveness and power make this fat burning lift a must for your strength training routine.
  9. Hill Sprints – Get outside and run some hills for fat loss. I always feel sorry for the suckers I see on the stair stepper or treadmill for hours on end when they could be outside doing 20 minutes of hill sprints and get a far better training effect. Hill sprints are the single most efficient way to burn fat. No more elliptical, I’m begging you.
  10. Hanging Leg Raises – In my opinion, these are one of the best core exercises you could do. Not only do they strengthen your ab muscles, but they target your hip flexors as well. They offer a great range of motion and help improve your mobility.

— Tank

7 Primal Principles of Strength and Muscle Building

There are certain principles that you must follow in order to build strength and muscle. Consider these principles as the foundation for your training.

Hopefully this all sounds familiar because I’ve mentioned these before in other posts, but now I’m making it easy on you by putting them all together in one place. These are all actionable principles that you can incorporate into your training and lifestyle immediately.

The burden is on you, so spare yourself with the excuses, take action, and get it done. If you do, I can guarantee you that you will get results. I give you the knowledge, but you have to put in the work! squats for muscle building

#1:  Focus on Compound Exercises

Ditch the isolation work and swap it out for more compound exercises like squats, bench and overhead presses, deadlifts, row variations, pull-ups, and farmers carries. To build more muscle, you need to recruit more muscle, and by doing isolation work you are reducing the amount of muscle you could be stimulating.

#2:  Lift Heavy

For me, lifting heavy always trumps volume. Keep your intensity within the 70-85% of your 1 rep max at a minimum. I’d take heavier sets of 6-8 over medium sets of 10-20 any day. Muscle is built best in —> this range <—. By lifting in this rep and intensity range, you will ensure that you are building both strength and muscle.

#3: Deadlift

It’s the number 1 muscle building exercise of all-time. You should be deadlifting at least once a week. This is the one exercise where your reps may stay relatively low most of the time. Sets of 5 or less will do the trick, and keep stacking weight on the bar.

#4:  Train Full-Body or With an Upper-Lower Split

Body-part splits are the most mimicked thing in the gym, but are a nightmare for the normal dude that just wants to get jacked. If you are a competitive bodybuilder, have at it, but if you aren’t, you need to be training full-body or with an upper-lower split. Not only will you hit your muscles with much more frequency this way, it forces you to plan your workouts carefully and eliminate sh*tty, worthless exercises.

#5:  Train Like A Strongman

Gym strength doesn’t necessarily translate to the real world. Once a week throw in some odd-object lifts like kegs, stones, sandbags, or even a yoke. Strongman training is stressful on your central nervous system, so don’t overdo it, but this will help bridge the gap between gym strength and being ‘functional’.

Strongman training for muscle building #6:  Train Movements, Not Muscles

Not balancing your movement patterns leads to muscle imbalances, poor coordination and degraded muscular efficiency. Primal Strength Camp was based on using the “7 Primal Movement Patterns” to train the body and not focusing on muscle groups. Don’t look at things through the lens of biceps and pecs all the time, but rather how efficiently you function as a whole unit.

#7:  Dial In Your Diet

The old saying goes “You can’t out-train a bad diet”. You can be a total-ass kicker in the gym but if your diet sucks, you will not build muscle. Count your calories and macro-nutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats) and make sure you are getting what you need to make all that hard work in the gym pay off.

— Tank

Explosive Power for Strength Gains

Explosiveness is key for generating force and strength.  Without it, you will never meet your potential at the big lifts like bench press or deadlifts.  While most gym rats focus on gaining size and developing strength via training heavy, developing explosive power to augment your raw strength can be your competitive edge.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys
There are a number of ways to develop explosiveness, and here is what I would recommend.

#1: Up Your Tempo

This one is probably the most obvious, but if you take a look around the gym, I’m willing to guess that less than 20% of the average Joes are doing it.  The problem is people read too much junk on the internet and lift with 4/2/1 tempos or spend an ungodly amount of time on each rep trying to maximize time under tension.  For most barbell lifts, you should be doing them as fast as you can and with explosion (controllably, not like a damn maniac).  This means a 2/0/2 tempo at most.  Move the bar with some authority.

If you start doing all of your reps with some explosiveness, it is inevitable that over time you will become more explosive.

#2: Do Speed Work

This is a classic remedy for when you get stuck at a strength plateau and you need to be able to apply more force and accelerate the bar in order to put up bigger numbers.

Some of you may ask, isn’t speed work just upping your tempo?  Yes and no.  When I spoke about upping your tempo above, I’m assuming that you can increase the tempo of your current working sets (in that 70-85% of 1 rep max zone I talk about here).  If you can grind out a working set of 5 reps on the bench with a slow tempo, I’m betting that you can do the same, if not more, with a higher tempo.

But with speed work, you are reducing the weight you can handle greatly to about 50-75% of your 1 rep max and banging out sets of 5-8 as explosively as possible.  Working with the lighter weights, you will be able to up your tempo more controllably, and while it may seem easy, you are priming your body for improved neurological efficiency.

Spend too much time on the left side of this curve, and your explosiveness will suffer. You need to incorporate some speed work in order to help augment maximal strength.

#3: Learn the Olympic Lifts

There is nothing better for athletes than learning the explosive lifts.  While squats, deadlifts, and overhead press remain my go to gym lifts and mass builders, the olympic lifts are some of the most explosive lifts you can do.  While they are highly technical and can be hard to learn, for someone trying to develop explosive power they can be essential.

I attended an olympic lifting seminar a while back taught by the head football strength and conditioning coach from the Virginia Military Institute, and he spoke of how he has his athletes olympic lift several times a week.

At the very least you should learn how to clean and press, which is something I’m required to do a lot training for Strongman.  If you could only do one upper body exercise for the rest of your life, this would be it.

Laura Snatch

#4: Embrace Plyometrics

Back when my vertical jump was at its highest, so were my squat and bench numbers.  I was jumping twice a week and developed explosiveness that directly translated to my performance in the weight room.

Jumping for height and distance is all you need to do once or twice a week.  Nothing fancy, but it needs to be part of your training.  Not only will this help with explosion, but it’s a great conditioning tool as well.  Vertical jumps, box jumps, hurdle jumps, and broad jumps are all you need here.

Evolve!!

— Tank

7 Tips to Develop Crushing Grip Strength

Grip strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of training, yet it can be one of your most important assets in your quest to get stronger.

grip strength

The stronger your grip, the better you will perform at all of the big lifts like the bench press and deadlift.

This all stems from something called “radiant tension”.  For every lift, you should be gripping the sh*t out of the bar.  When you do this, the tension will travel from your hands, into your forearms, through your upper arms and into your shoulders and so on.  This is radiant tension.  Any experienced lifter knows that to get stronger and press more weight, you have to be able to create not only radiant tension, but also total body tension.  Grip strength is your starting point.

If you want to test this concept, do a light set of bench presses with a slack or just loose grip.  You will notice that your control over the bar isn’t that great and you aren’t recruiting a ton of muscle to do the lift.  Then do a set with as much radiant tension as you can muster by really death clutching the bar, and I guarantee you will be able to feel a difference in your muscle recruitment, efficiency, and force production.

So, what if your grip sucks?  How the hell do you fix it?  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  Here are 7 ways to develop crushing grip strength:

#1: Death Grip the Bar

I already mentioned this is the key to creating radiant tension.  You should be doing this on every single rep of every single set.  If you want to get good at something, you have to practice.  Frequently grabbing the bar as hard as possible will improve your grip strength over time.

#2: Use a Thicker Bar

Thick bar training is not only what I attribute my grip strength to, but also my forearm development.  In fact, I haven’t used a standard size barbell in years.  Using a thick bar will challenge your grip and force you to get stronger.

If you don’t have thick bars at your gym, pony up $40 and invest in a pair of Fat Gripz.  This is what I use and they are ALWAYS in my gym bag.  You can purchase them on the right hand side of this page.

grip strength

#3: Do Not Lift With a Bar At All

If you missed my post on imperfection training, check it out here.

Training with odd objects can be one of the best things you can do to help develop your grip strength.  Why?  Because odd-objects typically have no grip!

Sandbags and stones for example have nowhere for you to naturally put your hand around.  You simply have to grip it wherever you can get your hands placed in order to move the weight, and your hand position will rarely be in the same place twice.  This is a sure-fire way to force your body to use radiant tension, whether or not you even realize it.

This will also take your fingers out of some of the lifts, forcing you to be more proficient with your entire hands and upper body muscles to help maintain a hold on whatever you are lifting.  This brings me to the next technique for maximizing your gripping power…

#4: Use False Grip

A false grip is simply switching up how you grip things, taking the emphasis off of your fingers, and gripping anything you might be holding deeper into your hands.

For those of you trying to learn muscle ups, using a false grip is crucial.  But this also applies to your various strength training exercises as well.  Using this kind of grip gives you more surface area on the things you are gripping, naturally giving you more power and ability to sustain gripping power.

Watch this video.  Travis Bagent gives a great breakdown on the false grip and how that has helped him in his arm wrestling career.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9235-tIBkA[/tube]


#5: Ditch the Straps

For the longest time I didn’t use straps.  I viewed them as cheating.  However, my outlook on that has since changed and I think there is a time and place for them.

If you want to emphasize a muscle group, but don’t want your reps to suffer and fail prematurely because of your grip, it makes sense to use straps.  But they are a slippery slope.  I started using them too frequently during a training cycle, and then when I started training without them again, I immediately noticed my grip had weakened.

Use them strategically but not too frequently.

#6: Deadlift

If you are picking up heavy weight off the floor repeatedly, you will develop serious gripping power.  Deadlifting is awesome for this because you inherently squeeze the hell out of the bar anyway.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone deadlift with a slack grip.

So, not only will you be moving serious weight with a strong grip, you will be utilizing radiant tension that will carry over into your other lifts.

grip strength

#7: Farmers Carries

Anybody that knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for farmers carries.  In fact, I think they are one of the top 5 exercises of all time.

Picking up heavy sh*t and walking is the ultimate grip test.  You can also carry light to moderate weight over longer distances to develop your “grip endurance” that will help you maintain a strong grip over the course of long training sessions.

So get a grip Primal Nation.  Without it, I can promise you that your performance is suffering.

Evolve!!

— Tank

How to Build Bigger Legs

When explaining the human body to people, I generally compare it to a house.

strength bigger legs

Your legs are the foundation, your torso the frame, and everything else is supporting structure.

Without the foundation, the house sinks and crumbles over time.  It is not built to last.

Your body is no different.  Your legs are the most important part of your body and only become more important over time as you get older.

Top 5 Leg Exercises

#1: Squat Variations

There are dozens of squat variations out there with hundreds of different resistance tools to use.  Start with back squats and front squats.  Once you master those you can mix in the other variations, including the single leg variety.

I tend to train squats with low to moderate rep ranges most of the time to build maximal strength.  I rarely go above 8 reps here and train with a lot of heavy doubles and triples.

When you feel like you need more volume, throw in high rep sets every now and then.  If I’m squatting for say, multiple sets of 300+ with low reps, I may throw in one or two sets at 185 for 20 reps.  Your legs will be throbbing, and if you are a pump chaser, this will do the trick.

#2: Deadlift

It is the number one mass builder of all time and one of the top brute strength exercises.

Some people consider this an upper body exercise (and for good reason) because it will pack a lot of muscle on your back.  But it will also build tree trunk legs and help you develop overall body strength and power.

I rarely do these for high reps.  I make sure I’m really stacking the weight on the bar and getting after it.

If you want to do high reps here, really tamper down the weight, somewhere in the 50%-70% of your 1RM and perform reps explosively and with relatively high tempo.  High tempo is not an excuse for poor form.  Form always trumps all.

women's strength legs

#3: Good Mornings

A lot of times we focus too much on the muscles we can see, and neglect the posterior chain.  Good mornings will build football sized muscle on your hamstrings.  The added strength will benefit you in the squat and deadlift as well.

Hit these for moderate to high reps (5-16 reps) for multiple sets.  I do these after squats or deadlifts.  Keep your form tight to protect your back.

#4: Glute Ham Raise

Another great posterior chain exercise that will beef up your hamstrings.  I’d recommend doing these as a warmup, or as a precursor to one of the big leg lifts like the squat.  I’ve heard Joe DeFranco talking about his athletes performing upwards of 100 of these (with resistance) before doing anything else.

If you don’t have a glute ham raise machine, you can do these using TRX bands or a stability ball.  In the beginning, I would do these at least 3 times a week.  When I was trying to strengthen my hamstrings, I did these every single workout, even if I was training upper body.

#5: Jumps (Plyos)

Another great warm up exercise and a key component of training like an athlete.  For a while, my cardio consisted strictly of pulling and pushing sleds, and doing box jumps.  But plyos build a ton of leg strength and explosive power as well.  Coincidently, when I was at peak performance in my jumping, my squat numbers were at all time highs.

Box jumps, broad jumps, one legged jumps; if you can jump it, do it.  Work them into your warmup.  Start with just 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps a piece.  Rest up to 2 minutes in between.  

Focus with each rep because jumping can be dangerous, especially when landing.  Cushion yourself to absorb the fall and stick the landing.

Check this guy out, really damn impressive…

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGl2XFhpX5k[/tube]

Moving on…

Ok, so what else do you need to know? 

In addition to making those exercises are part of your normal training, you need to add the following components as well.

Warming Up

You should be hitting a warm up before every workout.  I have my clients do the same warm up every single time.  It may sound boring, but it is effective and is something I learned from world class strength coach Zach Even Esh.  In our warm-ups, we are hitting bodyweight squats and lunges, various jumps, sprinting, back pedaling, lateral shuffling, and crawling.

This is also a time when you should be foam rolling.  Hit your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and inner and outer thighs.  If you are hitting squats as the main component of your workout that day, take the foam roller with you.  It is not uncommon that I am foam rolling in between sets to keep loosening things up so I can squat deeper.

Hill Sprints and Sled Work

If you know my philosophy, I don’t believe in training muscles as much as I do movements.  One of the primary movements that man must perform to survive is “gait”.  Therefore you must run.  But I also believe in building muscle, so I don’t run for distance.  Instead I train high intensity which almost exclusively means hill sprints and sled work.  I do this a couple times a week to supplement my normal weight training.  Walter Payton emphasized hill sprints in his training and he seemed to have some minor success relying on his legs…

strength bigger legs

Stretching

Long muscles are strong muscles.  Remember that.

The longer your muscles are the more room you have to pack in dense mass, hence you get bigger.  Besides, as you get older, you need to be flexible.  You don’t want to be an old person who can’t tie their own shoes or spends half their morning trying to get out of bed.  If you are a young’en, you may be flexible now, but don’t think that will last forever.  And the more flexible you are, the more range of motion you have; this will come in key for squats, lunges, and jumps.

You can do some static stretching before your workout, but it really should only be the focus after the meat of your training is done.  Stick with foam rolling and active movements prior.  Then afterwards you can static stretch and foam roll some more and call it a day.

What now?

Put all of this together and you will build bigger legs, no doubt.

So if you are serious about training and improving your performance, you must attack your legs with the same ferocity that you would your chest or your biceps. You have the knowledge now, so take action and get it done.

Remember, you don’t build a house without a foundation…

— Tank